Recreational drug use

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Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [1]


Recreational drug use is the use of psychoactive drugs for recreational purposes rather than for work, medical or spiritual purposes, although the distinction is not always clear. At least one psychopharmacologist who has studied this field refers to it as the 'Fourth Drive,' arguing that the human instinct to seek mind-altering substances has so much force and persistence that it functions like the human drives for hunger, thirst and shelter.[1]


Regardless of medical supervision, this label does not apply to the use of drugs for utilitarian purposes, such as the relief of fatigue or insomnia, or the control of appetite. Similarly it is incorrect to catagorise non-medical use of performance enhancing drugs such as anabolic steroids used by some athletes and bodybuilders, as being recreational drug use, as the aim of this drug use is primarily to enhance physical appearance and performance rather than to achieve pleasurable effects.

Responsible drug use

The concept of responsible drug use is that a person can use recreational drugs with reduced or eliminated risk of negatively affecting other parts of one's life or other peoples lives. Advocates of this philosophy point to the many well-known artists and intellectuals who have used drugs, experimentally or otherwise, with few detrimental effects on their lives. Critics argue that the drugs are escapist--and dangerous, unpredictable and sometimes addictive.

Drugs popularly used for recreation

The drugs most popular for recreational use worldwide are:

Other substances often used:

Drug use over time

Drug use has increased in all categories since prohibition.[2] Since 1937, the use of marijuana[3] has become one undertaken by 20-37% of the youth of the United States.[2] Between 1972 and 1988 the use of cocaine increased more than fivefold.[4] The usage patterns of the current two most prevalent drugs, methamphetamine and ecstasy, have shown similar gains.[2]

See also


  1. Siegel, Ronald K (2005). Intoxication: The universal drive for mind-altering substances. Vermont: Park Street Press. pp. pp vii. ISBN 1-59477-069-7.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Monitoring The Future
  3. Charles Whitebread: The History of the Non-Medical Use of Drugs in the United States
  4. Controlling Cocaine: Supply Versus Demand Programs

  • Out of It: A Cultural History of Intoxication. Penguin Books. 2002. ISBN 0-14-027977-6. Unknown parameter |Last= ignored (|last= suggested) (help); |first1= missing |last1= in Authors list (help)

External links

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